My Dad was a unique character. Jerome Mathis Schuett was born in Bellingham, WA in 1937, Grandson of a German immigrant; and son of a logger. While he frequently spoke lovingly of his father’s industry he was the only one of the three son’s of Shelby and Delores Schuett to never work in the timber industry.
My Dad left Bellingham for Washington State College in Pullman in 1956. Like all WSU grads he was a Cougar through and through. And he infected all the rest of his family with his love of all things crimson and grey.
My Dad’s temper, alleged philandering, and complete and total disregard for anything my Mom cared for led to their divorce when I was in the 4th grade. By the time I was in the 5th grade he had successfully sued for legal custody of my brother and I. He was one of only 17% of divorced men in the 1970’s to win custody in a court of law over mothers.
And thank God he did. He raised my brother and I to be very independent. By the time I was 13 years old I was cooking or preparing all my breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. I was doing my own laundry. And if my Dad ever asked to see my report card….I can’t remember it.
My Dad was flawed in so many ways. In fact there were long stretches of my adulthood, months and on one occasion years, where I didn’t speak with him. He was often crude. He was almost always devoid of any knowledge or care of hurting another human beings feelings. He was the macho man, only NOT.
Jerry Schuett made a lot of friends. But not a lot of close friends.
He left an impression on me that has been so deep and so lasting because he was there. Twenty-five percent of all Dad’s aren’t even present for the raising of their children. In the black community statistics are abhorrent. More Dad’s aren’t there than are. So knowing my Dad attended all my soccer, basketball, baseball and football games through high school puts him above a lot of Dad’s. Knowing he wanted us to be raised by him rather than our mother means a lot too.
Knowing his many flaws and that he and I clashed a lot, some have questioned why I miss him so much. My only logical answer is that he was always there. And now he is not.
At bare minimum, I know I have provided my kids at least that.
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